Beliefs: An Open Invitation to the Anthropology of Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion

This is an open-source textbook project for Los Angeles Valley College. Professors: If you assign this text in your course or if you would like to contribute to the next draft, please email the editors at, and consider downloading the corresponding Canvas Shell.

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Anthropology of Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion

Chapter 2: Cultural Relativism and Cannibalism

Chapter 3: Theoretical Approaches Toward The Study Of Religion

Chapter 4: Postmodern Thought

Chapter 5: Witchcraft

Chapter 6: Rituals

Chapter 7: Myths

Chapter 8: Comparative Religion

Chapter 9: Religion and Syncretism

Chapter 10: Altered States of Consciousness

Chapter 11: Religious Specialists

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

This text is dedicated to Sidney Lark and Nairi Thea who brilliantly entertained themselves while their moms researched, drafted, and edited these chapters.

Special thanks to Los Angeles Valley College for the funding necessary to pursue to this project; we succeeded with particular support from Meghan Cason and encouragement from Rebecca Stein.

Of course, none of this could be possible without the incredible contributions of George Gmelch, Shirley Lindenbaum, Michael Fobes Brown ,Griffin Ced, Jill Weiss, Natural History Magazine, and NPR.

Amanda Zunner-Keating, Los Angeles Valley College
Madlen Avetyan, Los Angeles Valley College

Peer Reviewers:
Ben Shepard, Los Angeles Valley College
Laurie Solis, College of the Canyons
Oscar Hernández, Los Angeles Valley College
Brian Pierson, Pierce College
Sarah Etheridge, College of the Canyons

Student Researchers:
Alexa Zysman
Angelica Alvarado
Olivia Buchbinder
Genna Weinstein
Phillip Te
Ahmet Dikyurt
Sona Gevorgian
Ana Cachu

Cultural Anthropologist in Los Angeles